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They’ve Already Won

theyve-already-won-belvoir-harriet-gillies-pierce-wilcoxI’m not sure what I’ve just seen, but I think I like it. I suspect, and I might just be a little dazed and confused, but it seems it was probably Facebook the Musical.

It’s certainly the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Facebook on a stage: a maze of garbled messages written in sentence fragments, political diatribes interspersed with soft porn and 39 Renaissance Babies Who Can’t Even. It’s the first time someone’s actually read a BuzzFeed post to me, and I kinda liked it. I’m no closer to knowing how to even, but I’ve certainly been convinced that we are all doomed by our inability to communicate.

The show is less play and more, well, I don’t know what it is. Five acts, apparently connected, featuring every kind of performance art from beatboxing to interpretive dance. Harriet and Pierce do everything themselves, it seems. The blackouts operated from a lighting desk on stage and a remote control, and the frequent use of a laptop and projector to remind us that we’re really focused on the internet’s true bottom feeders.

And dull moments? There were quite a few. Perhaps not as many as featured on the actual internet, but the odd creaking hinge could not have more potently reminded me of those moments when I find myself scrolling through masses of absolute rubbish on Facebook until I find myself wondering why I’m looking at something with yet another title like he churns butter in a suit, but when he clenches his buttocks… unbelievable! when there are far more interesting things to do.

I’ve certainly experienced more coherent shows. And more interesting shows. But I’m not at all ready to write this one off. Harriet and Pierce have a point. I’m just not sure what the point is.

Whatever the point is, the show is sure to get you thinking, and is an entertaining way to spend an hour.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 in Canberra Theatre, Gorman House, Theatre

 

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A new theatre blogger is about in Canberra!

So I was scrolling through Facethingy for something interesting this morning, and lo and behold, I was successful. That doesn’t happen often!

I came across a link to a new blog about theatre in Canberra. Again, anonymous, and seemingly a little critical of Canberra’s slightly longer-standing anonymous critic, Max, who’s had a six-month head start and has ruffled a few feathers. This blogger, who goes by the title That Guy Who Watches Canberra Theatre is rather more modest and wants to increase conversation about theatre in Canberra, which I appreciate rather more than Max‘s claim that whatever s/he thinks is Gospel. Well, I congratulate That Guy on that, and wish him all the best. I also look forward to offering the odd pingback where we happen to post about the same show.

My one little hesitation is that I’m not fond of the anonymous critic idea generally. It has some merit, since it allows the critic to be completely candid about people s/he might otherwise just pay lip service to, but it also encourages that most useless form of criticism, the attack. Max has been known to tear artists down under the rather bemusing motto of being “objective, honest and accurate” (objectivity is of course impossible in a critic, who by definition must take a position; and an accuracy of opinion is hardly something to distinguish any individual critic from any other (for all anyone knows every critic’s expression of his/her opinion has always been accurate); though I value the honesty). Max is rarely as aggressive as the worst of the critics at the Crimes (a significant achievement!). So while I can understand why a critic might want to remain anonymous, and don’t really object, I just don’t see enough value in anonymity. If opinions are personal, they should be owned by a person and not paraded about as gospel.

I’m aware I’m sitting in a glass house here; I haven’t always focused on what I like, which was my intention for this blog when I started it four years ago. But nonetheless, I stand behind my opinions and own them. My real name is all over this blog and everything that links to it, and anyone can click through or search for my Facebook or Twitter accounts to hurl abuse right back at me. There are photos of my face so that if you don’t know me and you object to something I write you can approach me the next time you see me in a theatre foyer and punch it. Even my phone number is here, freely available for you! Anyone can post a dissenting point of view in response to my posts, and know who they’re having a conversation with. When I review for Australian Stage, I need to be more forthcoming, and I don’t get the privilege of simply not writing about shows I really don’t like. On my blog, though, I can just speak my mind about what I do like and save my vitriol for Andrew Lloyd Webber, who truly deserves it for his criminal aversion to character and plot.

At times, I’ve found myself and people I’ve worked with desperately discouraged by the Crimes’ most viscous and disreputable reviewers, and though their reviews aren’t anonymous, I fear the same level of vitriol could develop as a result of Max and That Guy‘s anonymity. It doesn’t really help, and this kind of critic potentially leads great artists to quit and exit the field based on one irrelevant person’s opinion before they’ve created their greatest work or found what they’re really good at. I prefer the philosophy of pointing out what I value and hoping the artist does more of that. I certainly hope that no artist I’ve been critical of sees my opinion as being more important than anyone else’s.

The two posts currently up on That Guy‘s blog are reasonably balanced and positive, so I guess time will tell whether the anonymity will be a blessing or a curse. I just hope it doesn’t become a haven for discouraging the wonderful artists who make up Canberra’s theatre community. Overall, it’s just great to have another blog about Canberra theatre around, and I’m looking forward to a greater diversity of opinions being expressed (especially because That Guy‘s no great fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber). Have a look at his review of Free Rain’s Cats here.

 
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Posted by on Sunday, 22 July 2012 in blog, Canberra Theatre, news, Theatre

 

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The Social Network

Despite a few moments where truth seems to win out over storytelling, The Social Network tells a genuinely engaging story and does so with some empathy for a diversity of characters. It does this with some rather dry historical material, and it does develop a very human story, although it is a little on the superficial side.

From the opening scene, which shows not only Zuckerberg’s dumping by girlfriend Erica Albright but also the reason for it, this film is distinctively about Mark Zuckerberg. He would be an awfully boring subject, though, without the rest of this impeccable cast. The standout is certainly Andrew Garfield‘s performance as Zuckerberg’s foil Eduardo Saverin, which almost singe-handedly salvages the damage done by the awkwardness of Jesse Eisenberg‘s Zuckerberg.

Eisenberg’s depiction of Mark Zuckerberg is discomforting. Of course, it is not an easy thing to depict a living celebrity, and this particular celebrity, as the king of geekdom, must be a particular challenge, but I was left wondering what kind of human being I was seeing. At times, he seemed to be dealing with a condition on the autism spectrum, rather than merely being socially awkward, and yet even this was not consistent. At times he would suddenly animate, then return to a morose obsessive. Perhaps this impression was what was intended. For all I know, this could be exactly what Mark Zuckerberg is like, but whatever the reason, it was disconcerting.

The major strength of this film is that although it’s a story about the development of Facebook intertwined with the story of a lawsuit, both of which threaten dullness, the human element is palpable and immediate. In fact (and I can’t believe I’m saying this about an American film), I think the story could have benefited from a little more pathos around its central characters. There is a very human story here, and it barely emerges from the more technical process of depicting historical events.

I suspect that this film will date quickly. I would guess that, unless some major legal battle puts an end to Facebook, this story will be told again and again, and the best expressions of it are still to come. Hopefully some of them will be written with more concern for the characters, and will be performed with greater clarity.

 
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Posted by on Monday, 25 October 2010 in American Film, Film

 

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